Just like isopropyl alcohol and clean wipes, the coronavirus pandemic has turned oral thermometers into an impossibly hot commodity. If you’ve been unable to track one down to take your temperature, the solution might already be in your kitchen—as it turns out, meat thermometers work as well on human mouths as they do on roasts and steaks.
Instant-read digital meat thermometers work just like the one you keep in the medicine cabinet: Sanitise the probe with alcohol, tuck it firmly under your tongue, tightly close your lips, and wait for the numbers to stop changing. It might be a little pointier than you’re expecting, and it won’t beep at you when the reading is complete, but neither of these is a dealbreaker—especially when the alternative is not knowing whether you have a fever. Just pay attention to the numbers on the display and be gentle, so as to avoid stabbing yourself (or your family members) in the tongue.
Unfortunately, old-school dial thermometers are decidedly less useful for taking your temperature. They can work, provided that they can measure temperatures in the 100ºF range with single-degree accuracy. However, a bare-bones thermometer that measures in increments of 5 degrees is functionally useless because the difference between normal body temperature and a raging fever is often 2 degrees or less. If that’s all you have, it’s worth picking up a digital meat thermometer; they’re still well-stocked in stores, and at about $20, they’re inexpensive. Plus, when all this is over, you’ll have a handy kitchen tool to rely on for years to come.